23 September 2008

Thinking of my sister

To make my homecoming easier after the birth of my daughter, my sister stocked my refrigerator with small containers of beautifully prepared fresh fruits. She assumed, correctly, that fresh fruit would make a perfect grab and go snack for a new, tired, nursing mom.

Today, as I prepared fresh fruit for my family, I was reminded of that wonderful gesture of love. So, thoughts of my sister, prompted me to share a few of Thailand's many exotic fruits that we're enjoying on a regular basis. 

The wildly brilliantly colored dragon fruit, native to South America, is grown with great commercial success in Thailand. And, they are at their plumpest and freshest, of course, before they are shipped around the world. So much so, in fact, that the few dragon fruit I've seen in the US don't even look like the same fruit. As you can see from the picture, it is a small football-like thing with "scales." Bright magenta with lime green tipping, the fruit's exotic skin is only the beginning. Peel back the skin like a tangerine and you're greeted with, depending on the variety, either a bright white flesh studded with tiny black edible seeds or a flesh the same color as the magenta skin. (Note: Unless you want people to question what you've been up to, don't cut a purple-fleshed dragon fruit and schedule a manicure, like I did, for the same day!) The taste of a fresh dragon fruit is earthy-- like a great aged red wine is earthy. And, the seeds pop like tiny little pieces of caviar as the white (or purple!) flesh gives way.

Another fruit that you may not have seen yet in the States is the mangosteen. Little purple globes, about the size of a golf ball, hold just a few white fruit segments inside. They take some work to pull apart, but inside you are rewarded with a taste that is unparalleled. Think about the cross between a mango, a sweet grape, a tiny burst of lime and, if you can imagine what warm sunshine might taste like, add a dash of that too. They make a nice one bite treat when you're up for a little bit of work in the shelling/peeling process.

Other fruits we have been loving, but aren't quite as exotic, are:
* Pineapples (Did you ever realize that there are lots of varieties? We have easy access to Phuket pineapple which is really golden and sweet, similar to the Hawaiian variety, and the Siriachan pineapple which is mellower with a bit of a honey flavor and a firmer texture.)
* Mangoes (Delicious! And, again, a ton of varietal choice here.)
* Papaya (These are the biggest I have ever seen, full of flavor, and the Red Lady variety with some rice on the side make for one of our family's favorite breakfasts.)
* Pomellos (Similar to a grapefruit, this has become my absolute favorite afternoon snack. Peel, remove the membrane on the sections and snack away!)
* Chiang Mai bananas (Small and a bit starchier than your typical variety, these are sold in small bunches for about 50 cents per bunch. The kids love them and they make for a great banana bread!)

So, here I am, in my Thai kitchen, missing and thinking of my sister. Four years after she prepared containers of fresh fruit to fill my refrigerator, my daughter is opening the fridge's door and removing a freshly prepared container for her snack this afternoon.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 14:
Fruit Salad
A spin on the classic, use whatever fruits you enjoy and have access to.

A selection of your favorite fruits, sliced in thin rounds or as uniformly as the shape of the fruit dictates (I like oranges, papaya and mango)
Juice of one large lime
1/8 cup Mint, chopped
1/8 cup Basil, chopped
black pepper

On a large plate, place your fruit in a flat layer, slightly overlapping the slices. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the fruit. Sprinkle with mint and basil and a grind of black pepper. Enjoy!

Would anyone help?

Yesterday, the kids and I were wandering aimlessly through Chatuchak Weekend Market. (In reality, we were just a bit lost. But, that's beside the point of this tale!) Nearing the end of our wanderings and preparing to head back to the underground for a return trip home, we took a break by one of the ice distributors stands. The market is open air, hot and humid. So, in order to keep various foods from spoiling and drinks worth drinking, ice is delivered regularly to the market's vendors. The deliveries are made by about a half dozen young Thai men, pushing hand trucks loaded to the top with giant bags of the cool stuff.

We spent a few minutes people watching and F enjoyed noting the "giiiiiiaaaaannnnnnttt" stacks of heavy bags of ice. Market goers strolled by with their own bags full of purchased items, eating various snacks and enjoying their day in the heat. One minute later, we heard a giant crash. A hand truck full of ice was on the ground and on top of one of the young delivery workers. He was buried under the stack after it fell backwards on top of him. 

I only had time to blink and like ants on an ant hill, several dozen passerbyers were already digging the man out. Bags of purchased items were abandoned in the market's "street," food was literally thrown aside and the entire bustle of the market focused in on helping a fellow human being. The man was out from the bags in seconds and appeared, other than being a bit embarrassed, to be alright.

Watching such a natural reflex that the the Thai people exhibited in rushing to a stranger's aide made me sadly recall a news story I read a few months before leaving for Thailand. As captured on a DMV camera, a person was hit by a driver, who fled the scene, and laid in the street for 14 minutes before anyone stopped to offer help. The camera's view showed cars and motorcycles slowing and driving around the person in need of help. The camera also caught many pedestrians gathering on the sidewalk to watch. When some of the pedestrians were asked later why they didn't offer help, several said that they either thought it was a prank or were scared that the person was trying to pull a scam.


Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 13:
Thai Whipped Milk
A new favorite of my kids when visiting the weekend market. A cooling special treat!

Add the following ingredients to a blender and process until smooth:
1 cup of milk
1 cup of fresh fruit
1/2 cup of ice

Pour into a tall cup, serve with a generous amount of whipping cream, topped with sprinkles and a cherry. Spike with two straws and share with a good friend (or, in the case of my kids, head to head with a favorite sibling!).

16 September 2008

A picture of tenacity

One of my favorite things about living overseas is captured in this picture: spontaneous discovery of how other people live and work. 

C and I were out for some early morning mommy/daughter time. We were strolling along, snapping pictures together (she brought her fantastic, new V-tech camera given to her by some of the best friends one could ever ask to have!) and came upon a street we've crossed many times in central Bangkok.

On this particular day, with cameras in hand, we lingered a little longer on the raised platform overlooking the street. Rush hour was building and we witnessed the best of Bangkok traffic. A huge melting pot of transportation options... the train zoomed overhead, tuk tuk's raced by carrying tourists, cabs every color of the rainbow (hot pink, bright orange, lime green, purple, yellow) zipped through the "lanes", motorcycles jockeyed for positions and my favorite... the mighty street vendors pushed their carts right along with their gas guzzling, fume spitting companions. 

I have so much respect for Bangkok's street vendors. They work hard and are experts at what they do. They start their days early and work later than I have stayed awake to witness. All the while, constantly chopping and frying and preparing some of Bangkok's most critically acclaimed local food. Look at any list featuring places to eat in Bangkok and I challenge you not to find several food vendor stalls listed right along with your typical bricks and mortar restaurants. Often described as the cart on the corner of XYZ road across from XYZ landmark, vendors seem to find a regular location and reap the rewards of familiar customers.

But it is the tenacity, which the picture hints at, that I respect the most. Pushing huge movable feasts, Bangkok's street vendors set up shop from scratch every morning. An early walk through our own neighborhood reveals little more than a few wooden stools cleverly stashed in trees. A few hours later, full restaurants will be set up with folding tables, stools (taken out of the trees!), condiment trays and, in some cases, brightly printed vinyl table clothes. With the cart's propane hissing and oil bubbling and the chef's knife chopping on a huge wooden block, it's hard not to be in awe of how dedicated people in this profession are. Their persistent determination to serve high quality food, from recipes that have been passed down for generations, (after pushing a heavy cart and setting up shop each and every day in Bangkok's heat!) has made me redefine my former definition of hard work. 

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 12:
Yellow Harvest Curry
A sweet and mildly spiced curry, this brightly colored combination takes advantage of Fall's wonderful harvest ingredients.

1 tablespoon veggie oil
Yellow curry paste, to taste (approx. 2 tablespoons)*
2 cups of coconut milk
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional
1 whole bird's eye pepper, optional
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 squash, cubed (use your favorite locally available variety)
1 carrot, cut into large rounds
2 potatoes, cut into large cubes
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
2 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces, stems and leaves included

Place the oil and onion and celery in a large stock pot. Cook over medium heat until the onion is completely caramelized (add a little bit of water once in awhile to keep the onion from burning). Add coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and taste. It should be very strong in flavor. Check the level of spice and add a whole pepper if desired. Add all remaining ingredients, turn heat to low and cover. Simmer until the squash and potatoes are soft. Serve hot over rice.

*Look in the Indian foods section of your grocery to find yellow curry paste. If you can't find it, you can either use red curry paste and add a large pinch of turmeric or you can use the yellow hued curry, sold in your store's spice section, and add extra fish sauce to your curry base.

15 September 2008

Welcome monsoon season!

I'm struggling to find the words to explain what I'm viewing right now. And, given the situation, that's an odd statement coming from a girl who was raised in the U.S.A.'s Pacific Northwest! 

The entire view is white, with hazy outlines of neighboring houses and tiny little dots of green that are only visible because your mind knows that the color green should exist from this vantage point.

Rain and wind, both unlike any I have seen before, have cast a gauze-like shadow over our Bangkok neighborhood. The drops are plump, continuous water balls being blown in every which direction. The noise is thunderous (and at this point the sure to follow thunder and lightning extravaganza have yet to begin). 

The storm is pelting our roof, shaking the windows and causing every living thing to scatter for cover. The birds retreated long ago. In fact, over the last month and a half, I have learned that when the ever present bird calls begin to fade, it's time to retreat. A storm is brewing. And, the neighborhood's fruit vendor strolled his umbrella covered trolley through the street on his usual path home. Today, though, he was ushered, a bit early, by dark clouds that literally nipped at his heels.

And, here we are. T is, I presume, under cover at work. Later today some of the major streets near his office will definitely be flooded. F has thrown the screen door open wide, pulled up his child-sized easy chair and flopped down into it for a long leisurely front row view. C and I are standing a few steps back. She has her ears covered, to silence the beautiful, but deafening, noise. And, I, well as you can probably tell from this post, have found my mouth hanging open in awe.

About 10 minutes have now passed and the sub soi leading to our home is completely covered in water. No cars or people are passing.

About 20 minutes have now passed and the thunder and lightening have begun. Intense cracks send the kids racing for my lap (and I'm thinking where am I going to race to!). The lightening flashes look like paparazzi bulbs hitting a major celebrity... intensely bright and long, compared to other storms I've witnessed. 

43 minutes have elapsed since I started this documentation. The rain has cleared, the clouds have rolled back to reveal a bright blue sky. The air is intensely humid with a strong smell of fresh, hot earth lingering. The waters that temporarily covered our sub soi are starting to retreat. Thunder still rumbles, but so far away that it will soon be a distant memory.

According to a conversation I had over the weekend, this is just the beginning of the season. We have arrived at the wettest time of the year in the land of smiles, but if there is more to come of what we just experienced, then I throw my arms open wide, drop my mouth in awe and heartily exclaim "welcome monsoon season!"

Cooking in Thailand: entry no. 11
Green Papaya Salad
This salad is a staple on the Thai menu. It's bright flavors and fresh crunch provide a nice juxtaposition to spicy, creamy curries. And, this particular recipe will forever be special to me because it was inspired by a book featuring Southeast Asian flavors that my friend Valerie gave to me. The following recipe takes everything that is great from the traditional Green Papaya Salad, but I have altered it slightly to better meet the tastes and needs of our family.

2 Cups green papaya, shredded (Should be available in U.S. stores that carry a wide selection of produce. It's completely different from the golden papayas you may be used to eating, so if you can't find it, ask for help.)
1 red bird's eye chili
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup salted, smoked almonds*
1 tablespoon Thai palm sugar (or use light brown sugar)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Cilantro, for garnish

Using either a mortar and pestle or a food processor, crush the chili with the garlic and the almonds into a paste. Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Place papaya in serving bowl and pour dressing over top. Stir until well combined. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least one hour or place overnight in the refrigerator. Serve, garnished with roughly chopped cilantro.

* The traditional recipe calls for peanuts, but due to our daughter's allergy I've substituted smoked almonds. Surprisingly, the almonds provide a nice salty, smoky, nutty flavor. Even the most die-hard Thai food traditionalist among us didn't miss the peanuts! If peanut allergies aren't a problem in your house, just swap the almonds for the same amount of peanuts.

08 September 2008

Sorry Starbucks! Wow Wawee!

We found a new neighborhood hot spot (no pun intended!). Wawee Coffee (pronounced wah-wee) is such a welcoming oasis in the middle of busy Bangkok that we might very well have to say good-bye to our frequent Starbucks' stops. With a fairly large garden tucked behind the busy streets, Wawee has created a series of decks and bridges that seemingly float over Koi ponds and weave through lush tropical foliage. The ever-present incense floats through the air and hidden benches, a gazebo and market umbrellas are tucked throughout the setting to provide respite from the heat. Inside, chandeliers hang in cozy elegant rooms where patrons enjoy creamy, whipped cream topped creations and one of Bangkok's many ever present dessert cases continues to be refilled regularly.

T and I enjoyed a morning out on Saturday and discovered the joy of Wawee's relaxed atmosphere. Today, I shared it with the kids.

On our walk to the shop, we wove our way through a series of sky bridges (used to access the Skytrain or to cross major streets that you wouldn't dare cross at ground level) and side streets and alleys. In Bangkok, you do anything you can to avoid the traffic! And, during our walk we enjoyed the sites that have become 'normal'... the crazy motorcycle taxis where women sit side saddle, while wearing high heels!, the lines of food carts selling everything from BBQ meats to steaming bowls of ramen to beautifully sliced fresh fruit, and the golden wats perched in corners and adorned with incense, flowers and assorted tiny offerings

I snapped the picture at the left as we walked to Wawee Coffee this morning. The image provides a glimpse of a well established neighborhood walkway. This is a rare alleyway in which traffic is blocked from entering allowing the perfect location for a few stores, a fresh market on some days and a collection of spontaneously created restaurants every day starting at lunch time (created from the tables leaning against the wall). There is a wat in the background and, just through the gate, you can see a motorcycle taxi.

Upon arrival at our destination, F ordered what has become his regular drink here (100 per cent kiwi juice, with ice, thank you very much!). C didn't let the morning's climbing Celsius slow her down and ordered a steaming cocoa. She was thrilled with Wawee's buffet of sugar straws that accompanied her creamy concoction, no doubt. And, I ordered an iced tea with milk (known simply as 'Thai Iced Tea' in the States) and it was yummy. I asked how they made their version because it was markedly less sweet and less thick than the ones I've had before. When eating at Thai restaurants prior to arriving in Thailand, I had occasionally ordered a Thai Iced Tea and had always, no matter where I was, considered it a delicious treat. Funny how something authentic provides you with a new level of deliciousness! Wawee's authentic version consists of a simple ratio consisting of less sweetened condensed milk than other recipes that I've previously followed.

We left Wawee Coffee with a relaxed vibe that carried us throughout the rest of our morning's outings. And, we're already looking forward to our next visit.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 10:
Iced Tea with Milk
Burn a little incense, crank the heat up high, kick your feet up, throw in some noisy engine sounds masked by water features, don't move too quickly and you'll (almost) feel like you're in Bangkok with us.

2 tea bags of Thai tea*
1 cup of boiling water
3 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, plus extra if desired
about 1/4 cup milk**
crushed ice

Pour boiling water over the tea bags and allow to steep for five minutes. Remove tea bags and place in refrigerator until cool (or use three tea bags and add a bit of ice to cool more rapidly). Once cool, fill a tall glass with crushed ice, pour tea to 3/4 of the glass and add the sweetened condensed milk (a little extra if you like it sweeter) and regular milk. You want to achieve about 1/4 of your cup full of the milk combination. It should be sweet, but just slightly, and the tea should provide a nice nutty, fragrant background to the sweetened milk. Stir well and serve with a straw. Sip slowly and enjoy.

*Can be found in the Asian foods section of most gourmet grocery stores or import stores. If you are unable to find Thai tea, look for an unflavored black tea instead.

**Use your choice of milk. Whole will create a creamier drink than non-fat, but both will create an enjoyable iced drink.

05 September 2008

A brightly colored ball pit

What a day! Half way across the city, the protests continue and a few Skytrain stops away from our home, my son was wrestled and choked, in a brightly colored ball pit, by a non-English speaking three year old.

The day started off a bit rocky. I've been using a taxi service in the last couple of days so that we can avoid the walk to the Skytrain when desired. The walk itself is a great way to get to know the neighborhood and a fun way to interact with people, but with two little ones in tow, sometimes I grow a bit tired of hearing how the walk is giving them blisters (only a few!), or how much sweat is pouring off their head (mine too!), or "why can't we stop and ask that person's name?" (we've already done that to the same person for three days in a row!). If you've ever had a young child, you probably get it.... sometimes you're just too tired! 

Which brings me back to calling the taxi service. I thought we were all set for a 9:30 a.m. departure. Our security guard called a little early, saying the cab company would arrive at 9 instead. So, I rushed through morning preparations (Who needs breakfast? We'll just stop at Starbucks.) and took everyone to our security station downstairs to wait. The kids and I perched ourselves on a step and enjoyed a few moments with our house dog, "Carrot". Then, I started to smell diesel, heard a clank clank clank along with really aggressive clucking sounds. A huge cloud of smoke rolls by slowly and just a door away an oversize pick-up truck carrying cages full of squawking chickens is stuck in a perpendicular fashion to the road.

With the utmost patience, neighbors were helping the driver to slowly inch his way in the right direction. All the while, a loudspeaker perched on the top of the truck was blaring a repetitive recording which I have to assume told us that the chickens were for sale. Our security guard enjoyed sharing the commotion with the kids.

While the great chicken catastrophe is still in progress, our very nice neighbor approached me to say that the cab company called and they won't be sending a taxi. Apparently, all call-in driving services are being paid to join the protest and are shut down until further notice. So, we all piled into her car, waited for the chicken truck to move on (and it finally did) and she took us to the Skytrain station. (My emotional state at 9:30 a.m.: hey, no problem, we got to the Skytrain sweat- and complaint-free. And, the kids got some free entertainment... the chickens were enough to talk about for the entire train ride.)

After going to Starbucks (aka breakfast today), we wandered a mega shopping complex in search a play area for the kids. I had read that one existed and today seemed like an easy day to try to find it. After a bit of exploration, tucked in the back corner of one of the mega shopping complex's mega department stores, we found a mega surprise: Jamboreeland! Think Chuck-e-Cheese meets Disneyland's It's a Small World ride tucked into a corner of an otherwise calm and serene shopping experience. Pint-sized techno music blared (over and over and over again), tiny baht-operated spaceships blinked and flashed hoping to entice a mini pilot, four foot tall air hockey tables awaited their next game and a painting studio of sorts sat quiet and empty as little kids raced from automated adventure to automated adventure. 

But, it was the massive soft playground, filled with plastic balls that caught our eyes today. For 50 baht per child (a little over a dollar), the kids could enter into the area contained by nets and staffed by a friendly attendant to play on the slides and bridges and jump in the balls for a half hour. Everyone entering had to wear socks, which they provided for kids who didn't have any, but not for parents. Which, in my sandal clad feet, left me standing on the outside of the nets. All went well for the first ten minutes. (My emotional state at 10:45 a.m.: Bravo!!! You did it... you found a super cool new activity for the kids!)

Then came psycho kid, a true terror that I have never seen the likes of before (and hope to never again.  Now, I know that kids have bad days too and I also understand that no matter where you live there's the opportunity for a kid to take his bad day out on yours. But, this little pint-sized bully had it out for anyone who crossed his path and he took a "liking" to my son. Upon first approach, F thought the bigger kid was just playing. F's face said, "Ha, he's throwing balls at me." Then, it escalated. Without going into too great of detail, the balls flew, a choke hold was placed, I started hysterics that parents everywhere recognize, my daughter raced through the balls to help her brother and the play attendant peeled the other kid off my son. 

The "other kid" stayed as his caretaker quietly read a magazine. We left, immediately. (My emotional state at 11 a.m.: unfit for the audience that may read this blog.)

We finished the morning, limbs intact, by going to a wonderful Japanese restaurant for lunch, both kids falling asleep on the Skytrain (and me having to wake them up), catching a non-protesting cab home, tucking everyone in for naps and experiencing one of this season's gargantuan rain storms. Thunder cracked for the second day in a row and woke the kids up after 15 minutes of sleeping in their beds at home. (My emotional state at 4 p.m.: you can probably guess.)

With T working late and the rest of the family exhausted, I'll be reaching for my tried and true recipe: the one that fed my family during our very early weeks in Thailand and the one that I've looked to throughout the years previous when I needed a fast breakfast, lunch or dinner that everyone would eat. As a gift to anyone who may have had a day like mine, please enjoy my mom's fried rice.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 9:
Mom's Fried Rice
This is the one recipe, in addition to plain rice, that kept us going during the first two weeks of life in Bangkok. Thank goodness for the cooking school of mom that began early and has continued on. How funny to be halfway around the globe, have a culturally relevant recipe, and something that reminds me of my childhood!

2 cups of cooked rice, white or brown
1 tablespoon veggie oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
optional: assorted veggies, cut into small pieces (carrots, celery, broccoli and/or your other local favorites)
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons (or so) of soy sauce
green onions and bean sprouts, chopped
pepper, to taste

Place veggie oil and onion in a saute pan over medium heat. If using additional veggies of choice, add those too, and cook until tender. Move to the side of the pan and carefully pour the beaten egg into empty side. Scramble until hard and then mix with the veggies. Then, add the rice stirring over medium heat until well combined. Slowly add soy sauce until rice is light brown. Add a few grinds of pepper. Taste to make sure it is seasoned in a way pleasing to your palette. Add more soy sauce and/or pepper as needed. Continue to cook until rice becomes dry (about 3-5 minutes). Serve hot. (Also good reheated for breakfast the next morning!)

03 September 2008

The kettle that could have killed me (sort of)

Our kettle. Upon return to the States, it will be dipped in gold and forever remembered as the most problematic acquisition of our early days in Thailand. We had already purchased a paring knife (never mind that it was a folding thing that snapped closed almost every time I went to use it), a really great sharp chef's knife, a frying pan and some reusable plastic plates. 

Which, if I'm being honest, were never really intended to be reused. Instead, they were intended to be taken on a picnic and thrown out. But, becoming increasingly upset by the amount of paper plates we were going through, I switched to what I will refer to as 'reusable plastic plates.' They lasted a good two weeks before warping into almost unrecognizable disks.

Quickly, it became apparent that if we wanted to extend our cooking repertoire, we would need a large kettle. And, we weren't picky... any good size pot would do. We just needed something that would allow us to simmer some curry, heat some soup, cook some noodles, boil some water. The search was on. We hit every grocery store, convenience store and would-be housewares store we had access to. We even visited stores that new friends referred us to. But, after three days of searching we were empty handed and really, really wanting a kettle (any kettle!).

With T and the kids sharing a Starbucks moment, I made my way into yet another grocery store. Using a clever combination of charades, the few Thai words that I knew and a dash of English, I was led to a corner around a corner of a section just outside the grocery store. Aha.... four kettles sat before me. Cha ching! I returned to my family clutching my heavy bag, with what I'm sure looked like a smile appropriate for someone who had just received an Olympic Gold Medal.

All was going quite well until the next day. While simmering a curry, I lifted the lid to check on it and ka-pow. I closed my eyes in horror as the sound of what I thought was a gunshot going off in our kitchen. When I opened my eyes and stopped shaking a bit, I was standing in a giant spray of "safety" (how ironic) glass. If I hadn't had my wrist tilted in the manner that it was, I guarantee that the outcome would have been different. 

One defective lid later, I still had my kettle and, very luckily, didn't suffer any injuries. The same can't be said for my curry.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 8:
Easy Chicken Stock
Once a fun activity to do, this has now become a necessary task in our Bangkok kitchen. Spend a little extra time making your own stock and you'll have a freezer full the next time you need it in a recipe. Yes, it takes some time, but if you can boil water, I guarantee you can make your own stock: it's really and truly easy. And, it's surprisingly satisfying knowing you added a homemade stock to your recipes.

1 roasting chicken*
2 onions, sliced in half, skins still on
3-5 peppercorns
optional: assorted veggies like celery, carrots, herbs or other favorites, scrubbed and roughly chopped with stems and peels intact**

Place the chicken, onions, veggies, the peppercorns and a good palm full of salt into a large kettle. Add water just until ingredients are covered. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low. Cover and simmer gently for at least 2 hours. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then, place a strainer over a large bowl and dump the stock into strainer. Discard the veggies and bones, reserving the shredded meat, to freeze, for use in a future recipe. Set liquid aside and allow to cool completely. Once cool, either skim the top layer off (this will be an opaque film that just covers the top of the stock) or pour into a gravy separator and use to remove the fat. Pour into small containers, add to your freezer and congratulations: you've got a stockpile of homemade stock!

*You can use this same method to make a shrimp stock or a veggie stock. Just replace the chicken with shrimp peels or a good amount of veggies. When making veggie stock, my gramps used to serve the very well cooked veggies (that contributed to the stock's flavor) with a side of buttered noodles instead of throwing them out. As a kid, I remember them being delicious!
**I keep an enclosed container in my freezer where I can place food scraps, suitable for stock, throughout the week. That way, when its time to make stock, I just add the carrots, onions, ginger, herbs, etc. that would have otherwise gone into the garbage. It's a great way to reduce food waste and add more flavor to your stock.